Still shooters have long raved about this weird little wonder, but how does it look on video?

The Fujian 35mm f1.7 is a CCTV lens popular for its retro, vaguely "cinematic" look, its swirly distortions and bokeh, and its rock-bottom price tag.

I decided to take a chance, and found that I love the painterly, dreamy mess that you get with it.

The YouTube video embedded here was shot in RAW with a Blackmagic Cinema Camera, and exported, from Davinci Recode without any grading except some luminance curve adjustments, to h.264. It's also on Vimeo.

Open, it's particularly soft and swirly, but the building shots and plant pots in the last few seconds were shot stopped way down, and you can see that it gets sharper. Here is a 20MB ZIP file of some RAW frames from the camera. Below, they're posted as JPEGs, exported from Photoshop at 80 percent quality.

Unusually for a CCTV lens, it covers up to APS-C/Super35-size sensors. The results are even more conspicuously toylike, though: a little tunnel of clarity in the middle of the blur.

It's tiny and the aperture is clickless, which helps give it a cine vibe. It comes in C-mount, so you'll likely need an adapter. I had no trouble focusing to infinity, though I had plenty of trouble focusing. You can't see in this video, but in sunlight you will have heavy flaring and you will damn well like it.

The word is that these are somewhat luck-of-the-draw and total lemons aren't uncommon.

The one I have I got from eBay: this auction is identical to it and has lots in stock. This Amazon search gets you the same thing, but packaged by Fotasy. Goodness knows if they've done anything to the lens beyond rebadge it.

SLR Magic sells what appears to be a refined, quality-controlled version of this lens, but the jump in price is quite steep: $120 instead of $30-$40.








The Blackmagic camera has an unusual crop factor (of about 2.4x), so here's some standard Micro Four-Thirds video (using a GH2) by a better shooter than me.

Also: Helios 44-2 on the BMCC